In the short first half of tonight's study, we address the question, "do we have to suffer to learn to love God?"
In the second half, we begin our introduction to the book of Psalms including structure, origin, editing, challenges in translation, and, very importantly, what does it mean when we say the Bible is the Word of God.
This evening's study introduces the Psalms, discusses Liturgy and communal prayer, and introduces the Liturgy of the Hours as an example of using the Psalms in communal prayer.
Tonight's study covers most of Psalm 95 including its place in the Divine Office, its context, and its abrupt shift of mood. We examine the novelty of the view of God as creator of all nature and review the historical background in Exodus and Numbers. We touch upon the idea of God forgiving sins and at that same time exacting punishment. Finally, we begin an examination of the use of this psalm in the Book of Hebrews.
We finish our exploration of Psalm 95 tonight focusing on verse 11 and what it means to enter God's rest. Tangential topics examined include different degrees of sin, the Sabbath, the Millennium rest, and evaluating truth.
We covered about half of Psalm 18 tonight with an emphasis on understanding specific events in David's life that shape the images in this Psalm along with references to the Exodus. We read about Cherubim, examine David's musings on how God treats us according to how we are and perceive God, and conclude by discussing the role of humility in exaltation.
We finish our exploration of Psalm 18 by examining how some of the colorful images of conquest are more than images but reflect events from David's life. We reflect on God's humility and how He makes us "sound" as He is "sound". We saw how David perceived the living God by observing God's actions in his life and how we do the same. We also mused on how Christians understand verses about vengeance upon the wicked.
Tonight's study examined Psalm 48 as a response to God's miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the overwhelmingly superior Assyrian army. We spent some time addressing how God's perspective on physical life and death may be different from ours as well as the different understandings of love and hate between Hebrew and Christian thought. We touch briefly upon the geography of Jerusalem and some of the common metaphors used in this psalm.
In the unrecorded second half, we prayed the Thursday Morning Office from the 13th week of Ordinary Time.
We introduced the extraordinary acrostic Psalm 119 tonight and explored verses 17-24 as they are part of the Thursday Week I Daytime Office. We explored the psalmist's prayer to have their eyes opened to see the wonders of God's law and how our eyes are opened. We discussed the concept of being a sojourner in this world and made some cross references to the Beatitudes.
We then began our exposition of Psalm 25. We noted that it addressed major themes of prayer such as recollection and contemplation. We looked at issues of justice and persecution and examples of Satan as our accuser. We cited the need to always ask for our eyes to be opened to see what we do not see and explored the connection between God being good and His showing sinners the way.
This evening, we finished Psalm 25 spending most of the time discussing the critical need for humility and its connection with grace. To do so, we read several quotes from The Dialogue from Saint Catherine of Siena. We then spent a little time on forgiveness, friendship with God, and spiritual warfare.
We prayed and did not record Midday Prayer from Thursday Week I in the Divine Office for the second half.
Tonight we study the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55. We discuss what God is teaching us about humility, grace, and exaltation in Mary. We examine Mary's need for a Savior and look at some of the earliest Church writings to examine the ancient practice of the veneration of Saints. There is a question about the Rosary and we talk about being great and the importance of obscurity as we grow in grace.
We expound Psalm 30 in the first half of tonight's study including its liturgical history, the story of David and the census and the altar in Jerusalem, the influence of Satan and the demons in our lives, and the experience of feeling abandoned by God.
We explore Psalm 32 in the second half. We discuss the importance of love covering a multitude of sins, the connection between sincerity and forgiveness, and the dangers of ignoring God.
Our first session tonight briefly introduced the Book of Revelation and explored a hymn of praise used in the Week I Thursday Evening Office created from Rev 11:17-18 and Rev 12:10-12. We highlighted the conflict with the power of the State and Gnosticism, discuss the return of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead, the reward or the Saints, and asked if we love God with parts of our lives like these martyrs loved God with all of their lives.
Our second session explored the Nunc Dimittis or the Song of Simeon in Luke 2:29-32. We presented the background and the "Consolation of Israel" Simeon was awaiting, the dramatic change in scope from the previous canticles in Luke to include salvation for all people, and the need for us to present the same light to the nations.
After that, we turned off the cameras and prayed the Week I Thursday Evening Office together.
Psalm 16 points to Jesus' death and resurrection. It also points us to Him as the path of life, our inheritance, our everything. We examine the difference between the Israelite and Christian perspectives on this psalm as well as some of its cultural and linguistic nuances. We then stopped recording and prayed the Thursday Night Office for which this is the psalm.